Kenyon College

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Beer to Branscombe

I won't be talking a lot in this post as I believe Caitlin will be posting about this in much better detail than I could.

Last Saturday she and I went on a walk. But not just any walk! We walked from Beer to Branscombe and back. It involved many obstacles. Like a cliff. And stiles. It was not for the faint of heart!

View Beer to Branscombe in a larger map

Here are some nice pictures for you!

This is Fore Street in Beer. We got very confused for awhile. This was not the direction in which we should have been pointing. Oops.

This is Starr House. It is old. Very, very old. Certainly older than your house.

The view once we got our breath back. This is looking back at Beer.

Here are the rest of the photos!

Beer to Branscombe

Why, hello. I do believe this place looks familiar...

I can't believe how long it's been since I've posted. Claire-proven fact: time goes by faster in England.

Anyhoo. My winter break was glorious. I will put links to pictures at the end of the post.

Since then, it's been crazy. I have three classes: Literatures of Memory on Mondays, Serious Play (a creative writing class) on Tuesdays, and the Kenyon Seminar on Wednesdays. That's right. I have a four-day weekend every weekend! The downside is that it seems to make the weeks go by SO much faster. March is next week. Next week! *looks longingly at the calendar*

Because things are happening so quickly, I've decided to try and keep a posting schedule. Look for my posts on Tuesdays and Saturdays. And if I don't post, you have my permission to kick me until I do.


I started in France...

Offenburg, Strasbourg

...and moved on to Germany...
Koln, Magdeburg

...before going to Denmark...
Hamburg, Copenhagen, Fuzzy

Helsingor, Copenhagen

...and ending in Sweden!
Malmo and Hassleholm

Another post in a minute!

Friday, February 19, 2010

A return to Bristol and London.

I returned to my two favorite cities for two spectacular concerts. On Valentine's Day I was in Bristol, and on the 16th, London. (Disclaimer: Do not let the fact that I felt okay skipping a week of classes for fun things be a deciding factor if you are a student looking for a study abroad program. Nope. Especially if you have a weakness for fun.)

Bristol - The Maccabees, The Bombay Bicycle Club, The Big Pink, The Drums

  • One main bit of Bristol has a lot of shops and they're all on a steep hill. You feel like, at the top, you should have reached some awesome spectacle - indeed, there are some very nice buildings up there. It's worth the walk. (The Boston Tea Party on this hill is also worth the walk.)
  • Any spare wall is plastered with posters for upcoming shows - Bristol is a very happening place, musically. It reminds me of Seattle. How nice it would be to live in Bristol and have access to the music!
  • The slide: You may recall from my last post concerning Bristol a discussion of the smooth rock slope that has been polished to a metallic sheen from having seen the downward trajectories of so many rear ends. On the afternoon of my former visit to the slide, I was not able to go down it because it was monopolized by children. Pah! This time, however, was different. The slide was damp, but it did not hinder me. No, if anything, it sped me more quickly to the bottom, at which lay a large rocky outcropping! If not a near-death experience, it was certainly a near-injury experience. And yet, though I was yelling the whole way down and though I crashed bodily into the rocky outcropping at the bottom (it was the only way to stop) - afterward, I felt changed. Enlightened somehow. I wanted to do it again.
  • The show: For dinner we ate at this very hip place that TJ knew (he seems to know all the hip places and is thus a valuable addition to any adventuring party), and it was called Start The Bus. Wow! Even the website is hip! The walls had been painted with quirky, professionally done doodles, with strange cartoons ("Sometimes you just want chips," says a doodle with chips protruding from mouth, nose, and ears.) and a Boston Tea Party-esque array of furniture. Almost oppressively hip. After that experience we traveled to the O2 Academy for the show, where at the door they took my camera (sigh) and so I have no pictures of what was otherwise an incredible night.
    The Drums, an American band, had a lead singer who was twig-like, blonde, and felt the overpowering need to make robotic gestures as he sang such fun songs as "Let's Go Surfing." Part of what I love about concerts is the audience participation. The lead singer of the Bombay Bicycle Club looked so happy when the crowd sang along with him (the crowd is a being with one voice and many hands.) As for the Maccabees' performance, well, let me just say that this band will probably define my time in Exeter.

London - Spoon, The White Rabbits

My next trip, for expenses' sake, was conducted in a low-budget way - cheap coach, cheap hostel, but these things weren't even hindrances. My time in London was amazingly fun. We spent most of it in the part of London known as Camden, which - well - I've mentioned before. It's my favorite part of London. It's probably the best place in the world. The atmosphere, the people, the market, the pubs, the music; everything is slightly off-beat, run-down in some places but charming and sharp in others, crowded and colorful, full of people selling things, wanderers, musicians, strangely-dressed folks and mundanely-dressed folks, huge statues of horses and labyrinthine markets hung with fairy lights and chandeliers, shops smelling of incense and the tang of spices mingling with the cool winter air and the press of voices.

In short, it is another world.

Now, as for the show, it took place in a venue called The Electric Ballroom. Somehow, some way, TJ and I were able to scoot right on up to the front of the crowd. I got to lean against the rail and be mere feet away from the bands, just like at the Frightened Rabbit show. I even got to take my camera in! The White Rabbits, whose music is full of energy on the studio album, is even more attention-grabbing on stage, and their performance was - how shall I say this? - electric. They swapped singing duties and instruments like it was nothing. I was enthralled, and then Spoon came on. Now, if you don't listen to Spoon's music, you should. Hearing all the songs I loved being played right in front of me, everything else disappeared. That night was seriously one of the best ever, right up there with Frightened Rabbit.

Afterward, the crowd left pretty quickly, but I wanted to meet Spoon. We caught sight of, and were able to talk to, two of the band's members, but Britt, the lead singer, evanesced before we knew it. While we were talking, a security guard came up (he was ushering out the stragglers) and asked us for our "passes" (like press passes, or backstage passes, I suppose). Dazedly, I handed him our tickets, which he seemed to accept as justification for our presence there, and so we were able to continue talking with half of Spoon long after everyone else was evacuated. It was great.

In closing: fried eggs.


The silver ball at Bristol - sadly out of focus (that's us!)

White Rabbits

White Rabbits

White Rabbits

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

January is already gone!

In the time since my last entry, it doesn't seem like very much has happened. Nothing, at least, that merits its own blog entry. Of course, there has been class, and reading, and going down to Sainsbury's to restock my groceries (I have the list down by now: eggs, bread, zucchini, mushrooms, onion, oranges, bananas, plain yoghurt, pasta, and various other things as I need them, like oatmeal, granola, peanut butter, Nutella, and my newest favorite vegetable, brussels sprouts!). It pains me not to have routine supplies for each meal, and so my trips to the grocery store tend to be predictable and unexciting due to my anxieties about missing some vital food. Just the other day I added pesto to my shopping basket! I almost collapsed from the excitement of this.

And there you have a paragraph largely concerned with food.

Another paragraph largely concerned with food:

We have discovered the joys of a falafel pitta with hot sauce from the small cafe on the way into the city center (so many prepositional phrases!). It costs only £2.75 and is quite full of delicious. The old man who serves them is probably the nicest old man in the universe. Just be sure, if you are like me and tend to get whatever you are eating all over yourself, to carry some napkins.

Did you know Monday was a palindrome? 01.02.2010. However if you live in America, your palindrome was January 2nd.

Small moments of joy: When I wake up at 7:30 am every morning, I get the pleasure of seeing the clouds turning red, pink, gold, orange and purple as the sun rises and filters up into the sky. Because the sky is so changeable, and the clouds arrange themselves differently from morning to morning, the color falls on them in accordingly various ways. It helps each day to differentiate itself from the one that came before it. It is one of the (arguably many) treats of getting up early.

Last weekend a small number of us went for a glorious walk along the Devon coast, walking a section of the coast path from Weston to Branscombe. We stopped in the tiny village of Berry Barton to eat at the Fountain Head pub. I had the macaroni & cheese, and it was perhaps the most delicious macaroni & cheese that exists in the known universe.

We visited the beach before walking back up to the cliff edge, then tromped through the mud back the way we came, for it had become quite muddy once the icy dirt melted. It was perfect weather for walking, and the cliffs and the sea showed themselves well. I look forward to taking more walks in this beautiful countryside.

In class we have been reading about the history of walking, and more generally the history of travel and tourism. The nerdy part of me very much enjoys thinking about these sorts of things while traipsing across the countryside, but I am also able to turn down the volume and simply soak in the rhythms of walking, the steady thud of my walking-stick in the mud and grass, and the shifting sky around me. This year has been so rich because of the way our studies seem to have their fingers sunk into the soil of the country itself, so that to walk is both to think about walking and to become lost in the walking, to enjoy it in the moment. It has been this way since the start, and I am sure this is one of the most valuable aspects of a study abroad program: the way you will be able to weave your learning from texts with your learning from the country itself.

Here are some photos (click for larger!).